be enriching at BC
When Tiffany Cooper Gueye ’00, PhD’07, answered an advertisement in The Heights for a summer job following her sophomore year, she had no idea how profoundly it would affect her life. The ad read, “Do you believe all children can excel?” Since that summer Gueye spent as a camp counselor, she has fought to show just how deeply she believes in the extraordinary ability of every child.
As CEO and president of Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL), Gueye has brought her passion to work, helping to create summer and after-school programming for underserved and urban communities. Under her leadership, the organization has grown to assist more than 14,000 students in grades K–8 across Massachusetts and five other states—a far cry from the 20 students and one school being serviced when BELL began in 1992.
“We’re thoughtful about educational needs. Through mentors and adult role models, we get children to change their perceptions of learning,” says Gueye, who also serves on the BC Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Gueye has been named by both the Network Journal and the Boston Business Journal as one of the top under-40 achievers in 2009, and even the White House has taken notice, as First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated the role BELL and Gueye have played in improving public education.
Below, Gueye continues to educate:
What is the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
Whenever BELL sees positive results for its scholars—especially when the performance of a whole school improves. It means our reach extends beyond our enrolled students to an even larger number of at-risk youth.
In your personal life?
The best is yet to come. I just had my first child and that will be the moment to top in coming years.
What is your fondest BC memory?
Spring bake sales throughout campus that raised money for service trips.
What is your next goal?
To use my professional pursuits to help eliminate race- and income-based achievement gaps in education.
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
Take a job or volunteer off campus.
How have you changed since graduation?
I have more questions. I wish I had seen more of the world before BC, then I could have shared them with faculty and students.
Why did you decide to attend BC?
The focus on academic excellence and spirituality, as well as great sports.
What is the secret to success?
Belief in yourself, and not imposing limitations on yourself or others.
Where is your favorite spot on the Heights?
I love Bapst lawn—the trees, shade, and quiet.
What would you do if you were BC president for a day?
Fr. Leahy is doing a fantastic job, so I’d ask for his daily agenda and follow it.
What was your first job?
A summer camp counselor.
Where did you live freshman year?
Cheverus Hall, third floor. It was great. Three of the women from my floor are among my closest friends to this day.
How do you relax?
Watching sitcoms in the evening.
What was your favorite BC class?
I loved my senior Capstone course, taught by Fr. Marchese, titled “Loving: A Way to Know God.”
What do you look forward to each day?
What was your favorite BC activity?
Performances in Robsham Theater.
What is something your friends don’t know about you?
I hate to cook. My friends probably don’t know this because I love to host people at my house and entertain. I look forward to having enough resources to have every event catered.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
“For Boston, for Boston.” That’s all I got.
Who would play you in the film version of your life?
If there’s ever a film version of my life, I hope it focuses on the children I’ve tried to help over time, and that their beautiful, promising images are prominent. I would be a voice-over narrator, at most.
What was the best meal at the BC dining hall?
I loved the barbecue chicken sandwiches with cheese. The first time that I tried them I was on a campus visit prior to enrolling, and it may have had a tiny bit to do with my decision to attend BC.